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Journal of Environmental Quality Abstract - Wetlands and Aquatic Processes

Selenium Distribution and Fluxes in Intertidal Wetlands, San Francisco Bay, California


This article in JEQ

  1. Vol. 30 No. 3, p. 1080-1091
    Received: Jan 5, 2000

    * Corresponding author(s): PTZawislanski@lbl.gov
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  1. P.T. Zawislanski *,
  2. H.S. Mountford,
  3. E.J. Gabet,
  4. A.E. McGrath and
  5. H.C. Wong
  1. Earth Sciences Division, Mail Stop 90-1116, Lawrence Berkeley National Lab., Berkeley, CA 94720


Selenium (Se) concentrations exceeding ecological guidelines for sediments and suspended particulate matter (SPM) have been observed in the northern reach of the San Francisco Bay estuary. Long-term availability of elevated Se in wetland sediments depends in part on the fluxes controlling Se distribution. The relative contribution of sedimentary vs. post-depositional Se fluxes in two San Francisco Bay intertidal wetlands was estimated. Selenium concentrations on surface wetland sediments were compared with levels on SPM, and with previously established background levels in San Francisco Bay sediments. Sediment Se fluxes to the wetlands were measured directly using sediment traps. Although dissolved Se concentrations are higher than particulate Se concentrations in San Francisco Bay water, sediment input into the system provides the major flux of Se. Strong correlation between Se and C on SPM (r 2 = 0.81) indicates the importance of organic particulate deposition. Dependence on sediment texture was qualitatively established by measuring Se on particle-size separates. Normalization to Al showed that 65% of Se spatial variability is related to sediment texture. Selenium is further enriched in the marsh via post-depositional inputs, probably due to in situ adsorption from overlying water and chemical reduction. According to sediment flux measurements, enrichment in the marsh is equivalent to 20 to 25% of the particulate Se flux, thereby defining the marsh as a Se sink. These findings highlight the need for more intensive monitoring of SPM as the major source of Se to intertidal wetlands.

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Copyright © 2001. American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, Soil Science SocietyPublished in J. Environ. Qual.30:1080–1091.